Trolls beware, anonymous attacks could be dangerous to your health

Troll warning. Image credit Wikipedia.

Troll warning. Image credit Wikipedia.

Trolls Beware

At the end of the day, for regular internet users as well as trolls, there is no such thing as being anonymous online. Any clever hacker, competent staff at internet service providers, government authorities and the clever folk managing social media companies can find out the identity of trolls. They just don’t want to bother.

Somehow freedom of speech has been translated into allowing the nasties out there to attack innocent people with verbal abuse and even threats to personal safety. And the more vicious the attacks it seems the less inclined the folk, such as Twitter in this instance, are to do anything about it.

Two Trolls go to Prison

But in a well publicised case in the UK two nasty trolls have been sentenced to prison terms. A victory for decent behaviour. A victory for the defence of victims and a great outcome for the previously condemned to ‘sitting duck’ status.

The internet has allowed people the opportunity to viciously attack other people for no reason whatsoever. And they feel they can do this because they can hide behind a bunch of anonymous accounts and hidden identities.

You can’t hide

But this is a misnomer. There is no such thing. Everybody can be found. There just has to be sufficient will to bother to do the hard work. It’s all very well for companies such as Facebook or Twitter to hide behind the ‘use at your own peril’ kind of attitude. It can only last so long. Surely at some stage your customers are going to get annoyed.

And this is precisely what happened in the case of Ms Caroline Criado-Perez who was attacked via Twitter for wanting to promote having a woman portrayed on a UK bank note. Not exactly what one would consider a mind blowing contentious matter, one would think.

In response to an online user movement Twitter finally introduced a ‘report abuse’ button. After all, at the height of the nasty campaign, Criado-Perez was getting 50 rape and murder threats per hour. That’s no small attack. Of course sending two trolls to prison is hardly going to dent that kind of vitriolic abuse.

But what it does, by sending these two rather pathetic individuals to prison, is to broadcast a warning to other trolls. You can be found. And where people really want to, they can stop being a victim and get the authorities to step in. Of course they shouldn’t have to. Surely society should allow a woman to campaign to have a famous woman on a bank note and not be attacked for this? You’d think.

Lucky to come across young violionist David Garrett

Every now and then I thank my lucky stars that I have been able to experience the interwebs. Why? Because I can find stuff on it that I would never have been lucky to experience if I did not have this resource at my finger tips.

Here is how it went down! I like to read at least one German article a day just to keep my language skills from fading entirely. But to make it easier I read a more popular magazine. In fact my German family thinks I’m truly slumming it. I don’t think so. I really enjoy their articles and the scope of what they write about. I can read and understand their articles without fuss. And it drops into my email post box every day. easy enough as I have subscribed to two newsletters a day. And it gives me easy access to German. No need to look up words. I get it.

So today I read about an Austrian jeweler who has built up a hugely successful silver jewelery business. He started off as a mechanic, ended up on a tour of Asia after his qualification and ended up falling in love with Asian funky decorative accessories. And the rest if history.

Many stores later his own as well as supplying well known jewelery stores he has made it big. Checking his website after watching a video on him on my German magazine website I see his company has signed up some long haired musician to endorse a range called Rebel. So of course I got to check this musician. And where else but YouTube.

And young musician is fabulous. A true cross over artist. That is he crosses over to every genre, kind of. But then who says you have to only play classical music as a violin player. Well of course there are the Irish who throw in violin into everything that is music. And fabulously so.

But mostly the violin has been banished ever since the demise of the local village bands who were the main entertainment of the folk back in the days. Now only allowed to perform in the hallowed halls of the classical concert venue.

Until you get to see somebody called David Garret playing Guns and Roses. Long hair tied back or waving around dramatically this young man is redefining the violin. And it’s gorgeous. Of course Vanessa-Mae kind of debuted the sexy violinist bit, but she always kind of sold it to me on sex appeal. Perhaps unkindly so. I’m sure she is totally talented and she certainly made a ton of money.

But this young man really gets it. Gets the play music to entertain bit. No matter what it is. As long as it is gorgeous. So as I was saying. Love the interwebs.

eBay’s bizarre dance against accessibility

Amazing deaf phone.

Amazing deaf phone.

If I get the facts right about this case, and disclaimer I haven’t followed it per se, then eBay is being taken to court by a deaf person because of accessibility issues. By now it has headed to Supreme Court because the lower courts ruled in favour of the big boy, eBay.

In effect the dispute is something that could have been fixed immediately the issue was pointed out. eBay just couldn’t be bothered. Obviously for them disabled customers were not at the top of the list.

A woman tried to set up an account on eBay so that she could sell some goods. Nothing wrong with that one would imagine. In fact the internet should be a commercial space that otherwise disabled (mobility and hearing) folk should be able to operate in. Easily.

Except in the case of eBay, as final step in the setting up an account process, eBay requests the account holder to receive a phone call. Presumably this is to ensure that a real person exists on the other end of the phone line and to establish perhaps a valid phone number.

For a deaf person receiving a phone call is a slight issue.

It seems that eBay were not prepared to validate her account in any other way. Meaning that in all probability other deaf account holders would have cheated and would have persuaded a relative or friend to receive the call on their behalf. In this way nullifying the entire ID process. And in the end raising the question that anybody could cheat on this last step of identification.

This woman then took eBay to court under the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) that requires commercial entities to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Can you imagine eBay successfully defended themselves by stating that they were in fact not a commercial space because they didn’t have a physical space. Therefore they could ignore disabled people. This is simplified of course. I’m sure the arguments were more complex and even more clever.

The claimant, bully to her, has taken the matter to the Appellate Division. It also appears that US Legislature is  examining the issue with a view to changing the law to include the internet. About time one would imagine.

It is also said in this excellent article that eBay is taking steps to address the issue themselves. That is, making their website accessible. It’s a pity that they couldn’t get it right at the beginning. There are phones that can be used with deaf people. They’ve been around for ages. For years there have been solutions available. It would just mean that eBay would have had to step away from the automated process and have a human intervene. Too much hassle for one customer? It seems.

Thank goodness there are courageous individuals such as this woman who fight for their right at great emotional and financial costs too. It’s a pity she has to though. Surely society as a whole should be making sure that everybody is included.

Read the report here.

Apple pushes all the buttons again

New iPad

The new iPad got launched today. And it has some mighty nice bells and whistles. But that’s not what I want to mention here. There is something much more surprising happening in the back rooms of business. It’s called trashing the PC, those beige desktops, and hello to the iPad.

Some time ago I wrote an article about the demise of the PC as we know it. I didn’t really have any idea what would replace that cumbersome bit of box with umbilical cables monstrosity. I just felt that its time was nigh. And something had to be developed to get rid of it. I got a lot of flack for that article. Even some ranters. Which is truly stupid because everything will be different. It just takes time. Sometimes a bit longer, others not so long.

I mean who would have thought the horse and buggy would be put into the museum? Not the people driving them, that’s for sure. And the car took a while to take over as people fought against them. But progress will happen regardless of the nay sayers. And this principle applies to the PC as well.

Sure, I’m not talking about the film industry, or the designers who need those big super charged machines to do their design work. That’s a specialised job and the very quick PC or Apple computer will do the job. I’m talking about the ordinary everyday machine that does our tasks for us. Like me typing on my MacBook Air right now writing this blog. That kind of work. The ones with spreadsheets, word processing power, powerpoint (keynote obviously for me) and mail /browser facilities.

So here’s the snipped of news I want to share with you. Apple pushed its 25 billionth app this weekend. (beginning of March 2012). Nothing surprising here. Mostly games and novelty apps for the iPhone. But here’s the kicker that should make Dell, HP and Microsoft amongst others tremble in their boots.

The number one app of all time for the iPad was Pages. Apple’s word processing app. And Numbers and Keynote were on the list as well. QuickOffice Pro HD, Notability and Splashtop Remote Desktop. Almost 25% of the list was comprised of productivity apps.

What does that mean? It means that business folk have taken to the iPad in droves. Of course it could have been noticeable to the observant who might have seen the uptake of iPad’s at the local branch of a coffee shop chain where the iCrowd congregates. What has surprised the fundis though is the speed with which this uptake has happened.

But why should they be surprised. Wouldn’t you rather take a tablet around in your handbag instead of a 4kg laptop in your massively padded backpack? Even I am investing in a bigger sling bag for my Air rather than the monster thing I shlepped around my MacBook pro with.

And for those of you still wondering about this? The new iPad comes with a dictating feature. Don’t like to type on the touch screen? Talk to the hand. Err. Talk to the machine. How fabulous is that?  For the full article check it out here.

YouTube and TV – the competition hots up

In a surprising turn of events Google’s YouTube has signed up the rights to show all games of the Indian Premier League cricket competition live online. The deal runs over a period of two years.

Of course the sports body can still sell the rights to the TV broadcast to any takers. TV has not been excluded. So why should they worry. How many viewers will flock to online rather than watch on TV?

After all, TV surely has the upper hand when it comes to showing the games with commentary and other expert opinions making it more than just a TV viewing experience. How would YouTube compete with that one wonders.

Where the YouTube experience is going to come in is the availability factor. The sport fan does not have to depend on the TV channel to decide which games they think are important to show. This is especially important for viewers when concurrent games are played.

For instance for tennis fans the Australian Open viewing can be limited to one channel. When there are countless games being played at the same time on different courts, it is up to the TV broadcaster to decide which game could be the most interesting.

Where does the viewer’s preference fit into this? Isn’t this exactly the point that is going to kill off TV in preference to the internet? The choice is now up to the viewer as to what they would like to view, rather than having to put up with the TV editor’s choice.

How glorious would this make the Olympic Games viewing for instance. You could end up watching all of the competition in your particular field of interest, never mind how remote it is from other people’s interest.  Or compensating for the 15 hr time zone difference between Hanoi and Vancouver for instance.

All of the weight lifting? No problem. What about the archery or the shooting competitions. These are often neglected for such crowd pleasers as gymnastics or athletics. Yet there are millions interested in the smaller sports and most often they are the ones having to give way to the bigger viewer numbers. All for the sake of the most powerful advertising buck.

Enter the internet where everything can be streamed because numbers are not as important. It’s this choice that is going to be the problem for TV. Viewers will be giving up the battle for the remote. It’s no longer necessary. It’s all available. And as much as the IPL’s games will be shown live, the point is that they will be available to view again and again. At whatever time you want to. And as often as you wish.

And as for watching on a small computer screen. Those days are long over as well as all gadgets start to talk to each other. Plug the computer into your data projector and your game is played out on the biggest screen you can fit into your lounge.

Now all you need is that cute little robot to bring you a never ending supply of ice cold beers and you could consider yourself in sport watching heaven. TV will have to get very creative to counter this revolution.

Or else they will need to provide all games as well. Every single one. That would mean the women’s singles game could just have a chance of being shown as well, not just the men’s. And that at any time, and for ever. Good news that.

No amount of clever commentary and post or pre-match interviews will make good the fact that right now on TV in Vietnam I have only one choice of a game in the Australian Open. And it’s not the one I want to watch. Bring on live tennis on YouTube. Please Google!

Vodafone – like a bull in a china shop

Beware the power of social media. Social media is about sharing, caring and communicating in a two way process. For big companies who are used to pushing their message, in some instances down the consumer’s throat, social media can be a very frustrating space to play nicely in.

Vodafone has just had its and its ad agency’s fingers burnt, quite badly. Their campaign in Germany has created a backlash that they could not have anticipated. If they had, they might have approached social media with more caution.

This is what the true social media gurus warn against all the time. Be careful. Do not push your message, listen and take part. But do not manipulate the game.

Here are the basics of the scenario and for German speakers here. Vodafone hired, as part of a larger campaign, the service of one fairly well known blogger and one not so well known one to promote their Generation Upload offering. Problem was, the entire campaign was founded on the old advertising principle of telling customers what’s good for them.

It was supposed to be a campaign incorporating all the Web 2.0 bells and whistles, social networking, including Twitter, bloggers and hopefully viral as well. What it ended up being was a disaster which has not as yet played out to its full potential.

Some of the errors. The TV spot approached the message as if it were selling washing powder. The associated corporate blog is boring and talks at the consumer rather than with, and the copy supposedly submitted by the – young baby owning mom – hired blogger is tedious and unashamedly sales focused.

Add to that a not so well received launch press conference where more English was used than German, known as Denglish, to try and sound with it and cool and the traditional media was also alienated.

As one critic says, there isn’t much positive to say about this campaign.

The fall out is what is the most interesting. It may be safely presumed that this had not been anticipated. Of course it’s not a first for a bad campaign. But it could be the first, at least in Germany, where a campaign has such a severe fall-out.

A quick definition of social media is content generated by individuals, also known as user generated content, in contrast to media generated by newspapers, TV, radio et al. It is content generated for free for the free use of other people in comparison to the high cost of content generated by other media for the mostly paid for use.

Paying for two bloggers, one high profile one, to contribute to a media campaign as the supposed ‘representatives’ of social media isn’t going to work. See above definition of user generated content.

And that’s exactly what has happened. The German blogosphere has gone bezerk about the sell-out of the two bloggers, Sascha Lobo and Ute Hamelmann. And as only the internet can provide, because people can be anonymous, the anti comments have been anything but polite.

The social media backlash, that is the user generated content world, has demonstrated again, this time in magnified manner that when talking to people be careful. Trying to manipulate your audience can be dangerous. The online commentary and vilification of Vodafone’s campaign has created a huge wave.

For the company who wants to take the short cut route and buy a mouthpiece, read blogger, that already has a reputation and online following this is a warning. Be careful who you use. Do they really have the trust of their followers. Secondly be sure to allow them their authentic voice.

It just goes back to the fact that marketers need to be extremely careful when entering the social media space. The approach must be different to traditional advertising campaigns.

And finally a word of warning to companies eying social media. There are very few marketers who really know how to handle this new congregation of consumers. The ad agency Scholz & Friends wasn’t clever enough. How many more so-called social media experts are pretending they are? Caution is advised.

You could have so much more time for sex

There! That got your attention. Didn’t it. But then they say sex can sell anything, even cars. Maybe GM should have more sexy girls. Buy a car and get one free. Or use an article writing service and get one free. Ah right, probably not.

But that’s not the purpose of this post, to speculate about General Motors and sexy girls. It’s about having more time whether it’s for sex or for knitting your favourite cardigan.

If you are like me, an internet marketer, then you spend hours in front of the computer trying to write articles because you know this is something that needs to be done for most successful internet businesses.

I say most, because the porn industry relies on images of course. Words are not that important. I mean how many times can you write aaah and oooh? Kind of kills the ‘romance’ bit. If one can call it romance.

Alright. Enough of the sexy references! I think I’ve made my point here.

The real point I want to make is that as an internet marketer you should consider an article writing service. It will free your time up considerably so that you can do other more worthwhile things. Either make more money or have some fun.

So go here to check it out. You have a few days of free articles just to try them out. Thereafter it costs you less than one Tall Latte from Starbucks to get 20 articles per month.  And how much more time for the fun bits of life such as…..

Did I mention that I write them? Just to reassure you, there are no sexy ones. Just good ones for good business.

Go here right now to try it out.

Give the cat a break

Some poor techie writer is getting himself all wound up about the fact that a cat has half a million followers on Twitter. It’s really quite sad when some folk take themselves too seriously.

But it’s par for the course isn’t it. A new tool, gadget, software app or trend comes around and the early adopters jump on it like a rash of measles. (wonders if the example is appropriate)

These early adopters use said new tool with great glee and feel privileged to be the evangelists of this new thing. They promote it and persuade their friends and foe to join and in general they imagine that this new tool belongs to them. After all they discovered it first.

As the tool ages and matures other users also join and at the beginning the new members are like good little sheep and mostly follow what those early geeky adopters have decided this tool should be about.

And the faithful followers follow along listening to the evangelists.

However, as with all good things, it all changes.  The party starts to disintegrate and form splinter groups and all sorts of weird and wonderful new uses are invented for this new thing.

Initially the early adopters/evangelists can stifle this kind of bad behaviour by pouring scorn on these mavericks and making them outcasts. After all this wonderful thing of theirs has to stay as it was when first discovered.

But that’s not the nature of any thing. Time will change everything. Sometimes it changes so much it dies off and sometimes it changes into something even more useful and fun. Seldom does anything stay the same.

With other words, it’s actually fun to see a cat get a twitter following of 500 000. In fact it puts some fun back into what has been threatening to become a seriously boring and tedious social media tool.

Relax Mr TechCrunch writer. You can still do your own thing on Twitter. You can still be your own serious self. But do allow others to follow a cat sprouting seriously inane and sometimes humorous tweets. After all there is that fab website that is all about cheezy cat pics and fabulous captions.

The Pied Pipers of Social Media

As the internet morphed from Web 1.0 – oh wait there was no Web 1.0 – to Web 2.0 and towards Web 3.0  it’s showing some interesting new trends. In particular social media is the hot topic to end all hot topics at the moment.

That’s where it’s all at isn’t it?

One would be excused if one thought that social media was the only big item to hit ones web browser in the last year or so that’s how much noise there is about this newish development.

What is social media? It’s basically a space where people gather to share some kind of activity. This could be holding conversations of no more than 140 characters and that includes spaces, poking each other or sharing and approving articles posted on the web.

That space occupied by the social media group or tribe as Seth Godin calls it is on somebody’s server. That somebody owns and can do what they want with your conversations (Biz Stone), interactions with your friends (Mark Zuckerberg)  and your news preferences (Kevin Rose)  to mention but a few.

I thought I would just include that little warning again. It’s my favourite topic of the month, well it’s been that for the past two years actually.

What is amusing is that none of these social media spaces have managed to develop a workable business model. With other words, none of them are making any real money that converts into profit never mind be enough to cover overheads.

Even more amusing is the fact that the marketing experts have no idea how to slot social media into their campaigns which must be unbelievably infuriating. After all there are 14 million people on Twitter (March 2009 stats) but how does one get at them. Isn’t TV so much easier?

Dell has managed some success. $1 million in product sales by December 2008 directly via Twitter is some return.  Although of course one needs to view this as a ratio of total sales of $61 billion in 2008 which shows that this is not exactly an earth shattering result. Advice to Dell – don’t give up any of your other marketing efforts

As an interim solution until the marketing gurus come to terms with the new landscape and manage to find some way to reach their customers via social media a string of Pied Pipers are being employed to good use.

One such Pied Piper is Chris Brogan who pipes about companies and events to drive traffic online and offline. It’s at a cost to companies of course. No free lunch here.

But what really made me think of the Pied Piper fairy tale was the example of American Express and its OPEN Forum. American Express co-opted the popularity of its guest bloggers, in particular Guy Kawasaki to drive traffic to the forum.

Every time Guy Kawasaki posts a blog to the site the traffic doubles. And it’s via Kawasaki’s Twitter following that OPEN Forum scoops its largest traffic percentage. Kawasaki’s current and growing 117 751 followers plus RT (retweet) power is the magic here.

As an aside, Guy Kawasaki was recently caught out using ghost writers, so that kind of puts a question mark on the whole endorsement story doesn’t it.  Mind you, talking about fake, those models selling make-up have half an inch of face paint on as well as the help of Photoshop whizkids.  Same thing isn’t it. Who and what can one trust nowadays?

Until marketers catch up with social media and have worked out how it ticks the use of Pied Pipers will continue. There are some benefits to being an early and eager adopter after all.

Drat. Missed that one again. Signed up to Twitter in March 2007. Didn’t see that one coming…. Twitter name is Anja if you want to follow me.

Facebook seems to be allowing developers at your content

So here we go. Facebook it seems will be announcing today that it will allow third-party developers access to user content with the purpose of allowing more application development.

Mmmh. The article in the Wall Street Journal makes it sound all happy and fabulous and a huge bonus to Facebook users.

For instance developers could build a site that aggregates just the articles certain friends upload to the site. Or developers could offer an application that streams your photos you’ve uploaded to another site and much more.

With other words developers will be allowed to create applications that manipulate the data you, as Facebook user, have uploaded.

Of course you will be asked permission first. Okeeeey. Bit like that Facebook Beacon story where you had to opt out rather than opt in. Most people didn’t spot that the box had been ticked already and gave permission by default?

So if Facebook does that again, by default you could have all sorts of things happen to your information. Oh really?

Wasn’t the whole point of Facebook that you had a secure area where you could share your stuff with people you knew and you were safe from prying eyes? Now if Facebook opens up its info to outside developers that could be like opening up the sluithgates to a flood of information into the outside of Facebook world.

People out there might say that Twitter is allowing it. Sure, but nobody in their right minds posts anything close to confidential on Twitter, surely? They can’t be that daft, or can they?

We all know the point of Twitter is to send out stuff that we hope as many people as possible will read. Not so on Facebook. Most of us really only want our friends and family to see our info. We don’t even want our clients or bosses to lurk around in the shadows.

What consequence then if developers are allowed to play around with our Facebook data? Not nice.